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Dance Dance Revolution helping ease symptoms of MS

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Researchers at The Ohio State University College of Medicine are using the video game Dance Dance Revolution to help multiple sclerosis patients get fit and decrease the symptoms of their disease, Fox News reports.

The researchers hypothesize that after participation in an eight-week program, patients could improve their balance and cognitive function.

"Individuals with MS have a lot of balance issues and vertigo problems," said assistant professor Ruchika Prakash. "There's numbness in the extremities ... and then there's spasticity or the stiffness of the muscles, as a result of which the movement of the joints becomes challenging [and] restricted."

By using Dance Dance Revolution, a game where players place their feet on arrows on a mat that correlate to what they see on the screen, the researchers say it motivates patients to exercise because "it's fun and entertaining and because the game gives a lot of feedback."

The program could also potentially assist in improving patients' memory problems and cognitive function, according to assistant professor Debbie Kegelmeyer.

"We believe this may work because of animal studies that have shown that exercise helps create new neurons in the area of the brain where memories are formed."

MS patient Tracy Blackwell, 51, told Fox News that she previously could only walk to her letter box and "couldn't do anything" as a result of her condition. Since starting the program, she now plays Dance Dance Revolution every day, attends fusion therapy once a month and can walk half a mile every day.